Tax, wealth raps eyed vs Corona

Posted at 05/30/12 8:41 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue has started gathering information on the dollar accounts of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona as part of an investigation into his possible tax evasion, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said yesterday.

With his conviction by the Senate impeachment court, Corona may also have to face ill-gotten wealth charges before the Sandiganbayan.

“We can use that to see if there are taxes that have not been paid,” Henares said, referring to the waiver signed last Friday by Corona on his dollar accounts.

Henares said an examination of Corona’s dollar accounts would greatly help in the investigation.

She said the dollar deposits would help the BIR ascertain if Corona had correctly declared his taxable income or if his wealth is proportionate to his income.

Corona claimed that he held only $2.4 million in dollar deposits and P80 million in peso deposits.

He also admitted to not declaring this in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), citing absolute confidentiality provided for under the Foreign Currency Deposit Act.

However, a 17-page report from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) presented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales before the impeachment court showed that Corona withdrew at least $3.25 million on Dec. 12, 2011 or the day he was impeached.

More withdrawals were made up to Dec. 22, 2011.

Earlier, Morales said the criminal cases filed with the Office of the Ombudsman against Corona are still active. She had been vocal about her wish for Corona’s conviction.

“Now he has to face additional charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for ill-gotten wealth,” a highly placed source said.

The anti-graft agency, as it did in the past in the case of the fertilizer fund scam and the national broadband network (NBN) deal anomaly, is expected to secure a copy of the Senate’s decision along with other documents and evidence used against Corona. - With Michael Punongbayan